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Former Steelers WR Martavis Bryant Drafted by XFL Vegas Vipers



Martavis Bryant

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has a new football home with the Vegas Vipers of the XFL. The Vipers selected Bryant in the 2023 XFL Draft on Wednesday. He was taken with the fifth pick in the first round of offensive skill position players. The Vipers are coached by Hall of Fame Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson.

“We’re excited,” Woodson said. “He’s a playmaker. 6-foot-4 tall, can make contested catches. Puts pressure on the defense. That’s what we want. He’s been in the league. Understands what it takes to be at the top of his game. He fits in what we want.”

Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Ray Sherman will be Bryant’s wide receivers coach. Former Steelers safety Darren Perry is also on the Vegas coaching staff.

Last year, Bryant played for the FCF Beasts of the Atlanta-based, indoor Fan Controlled Football League after being cut by the Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League. He finished the season with eight catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

In 2021, Bryant was under contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, but never reported to the team and spent all of 2021 on the suspended list. He also signed with the Massachusetts Pirates of the IFL, playing one game and making two catches for 31 yards.

Bryant has been suspended from the NFL since 2018, when he was suspended indefinitely for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement while playing with the Oakland Raiders.

He was originally suspended four games in 2015 while playing with the Steelers for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. After returning to the field, he was then suspended for the entire 2016 season. 

He returned to the Steelers for 2017. In 2018, Pittsburgh traded Bryant to Oakland for a third-round draft pick. The Steelers used that pick and another to move up in the third round and select quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Clemson, Bryant played three seasons over four years in Pittsburgh, catching 126 passes for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

The XFL is attempting to return for a third time. The league was originally founded by WWE owner Vince McMahon, but played just one season in 2001. A 2020 re-launch was scrubbed midway through its first season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the league has been purchased by an ownership group headed by former pro wrestler and University of Miami football player Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

This spring, the XFL will go head-to-head with the reborn USFL, which held its first season in the spring of 2022. The XFL will feature teams in Arlington, Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington; St. Louis, Missouri; Orlando, Florida and Washington, D.C. The San Antonio Brahmas will be coached by former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

After playing all of its games in Birmingham, Alabama in 2022, the USFL will play in pods this season, with two teams based out of Birmingham and two teams based out of Memphis, Tennessee in the South Division. The homes for the North Division, which includes Pittsburgh Maulers, have not yet been announced.

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